Cineworld’s decision to temporarily close of all of its 127 UK theatres is “shocking” but “not surprising” given the current climate, cinemagoers have said.
The company announced it will temporarily shut 102 sites across the country, and Cineworld-owned Picturehouse will shut another 25.
Initial closures earlier year this due to Covid-19, current social distancing rules and a reluctance from big studios to release films, such as the latest Bond feature, have hampered audience figures.
Tom Robinson, 23, from Ackworth, West Yorkshire, told the PA news agency he thought people had remained cautious about attending the cinema.
He said: “It’s a bit shocking. I didn’t expect to hear it happening really, but I could see it with all the coronavirus.
“People are going to be a lot more wary going out into large places where people congregate like the cinema. It’s not surprising but it feels surprising.”
Mr Robinson compared the closures to that of rent-and-return retailer Blockbuster, which filed for bankruptcy in 2010 after increased competition from video on demand services, although it would continue to trade.
He said: “I think it might go the way Blockbuster did. With the coming out of Netflix, Amazon Prime and stuff like that, I think people will be a lot more inclined to stay at home.
“It’s a lot more convenient to just stay there rather than to go out to the cinema and spend more money.
“I would go but it really does depend on how bad things are at the minute. If Covid cases spiked then I probably wouldn’t but if it wasn’t too bad then I would go.”
Cineworld did not specify how many jobs are at risk in the UK. However, on Sunday, the PA news agency understood that 5,500 would be hit.
Chris Haigh, 64, from Wakefield, West Yorkshire, said the closures were “very sad”.
He said: “It’s very sad and it’s going to affect a lot of people, which is the worst thing as well. But I understand in technology… I used to work in technology.
“Sky, Virgin Media – they have the online movies and movies are being put online within weeks of being transmitted out to the cinemas.
“Therefore, people are sat at home, especially in these situations, watching television at home.”
Daniel Megson, 19, also from Wakefield, said he regularly attended the cinema.
He said: “It’s a bit annoying. I like cinemas and going to see new movies.
“You’ve got Netflix and that to keep you occupied but there are not really any new releases out on it.
“You have some food, you have some fun. It’s just a bit boring without it.”